Farewell Concert is the live recording of the Cream’s final concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 November 1968. Aside from the band’s reunion concert in 2005 it is Cream’s only official full concert release on video. It was originally broadcast by the BBC on 5 January 1969. It was not released on video in the US until 1977. The opening acts for the concert were future progressive rock stars Yes who were just starting out and Taste, an Irish trio led by Rory Gallagher. (by wikipedia)
Although the members of Cream (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce) ran into a number of disagreements which led to the band breaking up, they at least kept themselves together enough to go out in style, playing a farewell tour before calling it quits (of course they ended up reuniting later). This “Farewell Concert” took place on November 26, 1968 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where they would eventually perform again in 2005.
The Cream Farewell Concert (produced by Robert Stigwood, who of course went on to produce the biggest music-oriented films of the 1970s including Saturday Night Fever and Grease) has been released on home video a number of times, both in the form of the videotaped presentation as shown on BBC television, and a longer version shown theatrically with the videotaped footage transferred to film and two additional songs (Steppin’ Out and Sitting on Top of the World) as well as a slightly different opening and closing than the TV version. Kino’s new DVD presents the latter.
The film is introduced with narration by Patrick Allen , who says that Cream have “given rock a musical authority which only the deaf cannot acknowledge.” Allen makes more comments in between songs, and also interspersed are four backstage interview segments with the band members. Jack Bruce tells of frustrations with his music teacher as a kid (he wrote a string quartet at age 14, which the teacher didn’t like), Eric Clapton demonstrates his guitar methods, and Ginger Baker does likewise with his drums. It’s quite interesting to hear that these guys have backgrounds in classical music, as growing up I was usually told by my parents and teachers that classical was “real” music while rock was “garbage”- of course, that only made me like rock music that much more.
Many fans and the band members themselves have said that it wasn’t their best. Regardless, it has for a long time been the only visual record of a complete Cream performance. The music is enjoyable for the most part, kicking off with “Sunshine of Your Love” which remains a radio mainstay to this day. Most of the songs last for several minutes, as the band goes into long instrumental stretches between the sung verses. After the backstage segment with Ginger Baker, we get to see him perform a very long drum solo on stage.
The concert is shot with many of the era’s conventions, mainly lots of quick zooming in and out by the camera. There are very few long shots of the band on stage or of the audience, instead most of the show is dominated by close-ups which get to be disorienting after a while. Two songs are also accompanied by psychedelic liquid light over the picture, which definitely adds to the atmosphere.
As mentioned earlier, the 4×3 presentation was taken from a film print consisting of footage originally shot on video (the backstage segments appear to have been shot on film.) Watching the result back on video looks a bit muddy and leaves one longing for the original video source at its native frame rate, but this is still faithful to how this version looked in theaters, and apparently the only source of the two songs that weren’t included in the TV version. The film is in decent shape except for a bit of dirt and scratches at the beginning and end of reels.
The Cream Farewell Concert is certainly worth checking out for its historical value, and while the music performances may not have been the band at its best, they’re still better than the best performances of many contemporary groups. (by Jesse Skeen)
Cream played two final shows at the Royal Albert Hall, on the twenty sixth of
November, 1968. Both shows sold out within two hours of the box office opening.
They shared the bill with two, as yet, unknown bands, Yes, and Rory Gallagher’s
But it was Cream that the audience had come to hear, and when they were
announced, the crowd erupted in an emotional display of affection. The musicians
themselves would later admit that they were surprised at the reception, and regretted
that they had stayed away from home for so long a time.
While the shows were extremely well received, and the adoring audience called the
band back for three encores, Ginger didn’t feel that they were very good.
“Those shows, at the Royal Albert Hall were really not very good gigs. Its a shame
that that’s how most people remember us, because Cream was so much better than that”.
I tend to agree with Ginger on this one. The recordings of Cream in California, taken
from both the second and third tours are, in my opinion at least, far better than the
Albert Hall concerts. Back in November of ’68 however, that would have put me in
Jon Cott of Rolling Stone reviewed the second show (said to be the better of the two), under the headline “GOD SAVE THE CREAM”.
“What was exhilarating about the sell-out farewell concerts was each member of the group’s affirmation of his special gifts – Bruce’s subtle whirlwind bass figurations…Baker’s plateaued drum sectionings and textural clarifications, and Clapton’s Apollonian elegance and control.
Each musical line was almost hyperesthetically precise (this especially holds for Baker’s drumming), and each line fitted tightly against the other – parallel lines.
Many persons missed that raunchiness and fuzziness of effect which Cream often used to express – a strained indulgence, I thought. What revealed itself at Albert Hall was the poised quality of the performance, the detachment, the structure looked down upon from the stars-a self-begotten music (Cream is / was three stars) whose brilliance seemed born of itself without labour, for everything seemed effortless”.
Mr. Cott’s article was probably perceived to be a “rave review”, and I have no doubt that it was meant to be. What strikes me about it, however, is that he appears to be unduly hung up on the band’s technique. He believes that the “raunchiness and fuzziness” Cream had
in the past expressed was nothing more than a “strained indulgence” rather than a sign of exuberant enthusiasm for the music they were playing. He praises their poised detachment, as if this were a good thing. Strange indeed to praise artists for being detached from their art.
Yet, that may be an odd tribute to the band. So good were Eric, Jack and Ginger that, even on their “bad nights”, they were still pretty damn good. (by Edward Uzenko)
Yes … maybe not the best concert,maybe not the best rock movie .. but … I love the introduction by Patrick Allen … and I love the raw sound of this movie … the sound of one of the best groups we ever had !
And don´t forget:
Forget the lyrics, forget the message … just play !
Ginger Baker (drums)
Jack Bruce (bass, vocals)
Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals)
01. Introduction by Patrick Allen (including Sunshine Of Your Love)
02. Sunshine Of Your Love (Bruce/Brwon/Clapton)
03. Interview Jack Bruce
04. White Room (Bruce/Brown)
05. Politician (Bruce/Brown)
07. Interview Eric Clapton
08. Steppin´ Out (Bracken)
09. Sitting On The Top Of The World (Burnett)
10. Spoonful (Dixon)
11. Interview Ginger Baker
12. Toad (Baker)
13. Interview Jack Bruce
14. I´m So Glad (James)
Total time: 1.19.36